Knoebels' Groves 10/18/08

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Monday, October 20, 2008 1:43 AM

Warning! This TR is a bit long, since I decided I wanted to write a novel!

I decided to head up to Knoebels Saturday evening for their Haunted Event. I wasn’t sure what to call it—PPPP or P4 (for Post-Phoenix Phall Phunfest), but I was to find out that the event is actually called Hallo-Funn. That’s with two n’s and an f, and no “ph.”

For those of you familiar with PPP, things are set up slightly differently. The main differences are that entrance to the park is via the campground road and parking is in the campground lot. When I attended this event last year, I parked in the second row of parking immediately next to the campground playground. Not last night, there were cars parked all over the place. Row upon row of cars. Of course, with Knoebels, you think you see an open space, only to find it occupied by a tree. I ended up parked close to the restrooms above the Texas sites. A bit of a walk, but it was a least a good landmark to find my car at the end of the night.

There were a limited number of attractions open, although several more than last year. In addition to Phoenix, the Haunted Cars and the Haunted Mansion, the Halloween Express (Pioneer Train), Twister, and Fandango were open. When I arrived just after 8:00, I headed toward Phoenix Junction where they were selling ride tickets in addition to the usual food and drink. I noticed that for the younger crowd, Knoebels moved the Moonbounce and Firetruck ride were moved to the courtyard in front of Phoenix. There was also a small maze made of hay bales there. The Chalet was also open, giving that whole area a feeling of activity and excitement. There were definitely a lot of families and kids there.

The main rides cost $2.50 per ride each, with a deal of 5 tickets for $10 available. The kiddie rides cost $1.00 each, and the maze was free. I decided to buy 2 strips of tickets, giving me 10 rides for $20. I also found out that, as always, they were accepting regular Knoebels tickets, at the current ride prices of course.

First up, and second too, were two laps on Phoenix. First lap in my favorite row 2, followed by some Schmeckiful goodness in the third row. What’s there to say? Riding in near total darkness, except for what emanates from the haunted car scenes and a waning moon rising over the hill, and temps in the upper 40s. Single train op, but no more than a 3-4 train wait.

After Phoenix, I headed back to catch a ride through the Mansion. To keep folks from wandering all over, they basically use every bench from throughout the park to create a corridor from Phoenix past the Turns, Paratrooper and the revolving pavilion to the Mansion. There was a light crowd walking in both directions, just enough to keep the cars constantly running. I noticed that the Moonshine Shooting Gallery and a few games across from Phoenix Junction were also open.

I finished my first strip of tickets with 2 rides on Twister; rows 2 and 3. I definitely prefer the rear seat of the cars because of the extra leg room. Definitely fun, smooth riding. The second time, I was invited to ride with a college age guy who was the odd one out in his group and riding alone. As we were making the turn into the first lift, he told me he was terrified of coasters because of the height. I told him he wouldn’t notice how high we were in the total darkness. And I’m thinking I hope this guy doesn’t start squeezing the life out of my arm. We both made it through unscathed, and college guy seemed to enjoy the ride greatly.

Since they had a barricade across the road at the Twister entrance, and I knew they were running the train, I wondered how to get to the station. In just a few minutes, I discovered that they had created a temporary loading station just off the path leading from Twister to the campground. So basically, the train ride “begins” just before the tunnel. There were a few “duh” moments, as a few people thought the ride was now shorter than normal. (In case anyone is wondering, the train makes the same loop, except it just drove through the station without stopping.)

The scenes and effects were the same as at PPP. I thought there might be something more since as we approached the first scene, the train slowed down and the engineer blew the whistle. But on the other hand, I don’t know how many people would want to stand out in those woods in 40 degree weather for 4 hours waiting to scare people passing by on a train.

When we disembarked, I mentioned to an employee (I think he’s in Operations) what a good job they did with the train for its first year. He told me they wanted to make it more family-friendly and let the Cars be scarier. He also mentioned that they would definitely be adding more things, which I thought was intriguing.

I now had 4 tickets left, and about 20-25 minutes to use them. No problem at Knoebels. Back to Phoenix, where I quickly walked onto Row 10 before the train dispatched. Fun ride, and lots of air, but I’m at the point where I prefer the floater air you get at the front of the train, not the air you get when the seat drops out from under you and your body “catches up.” That ride was followed by a trip back into the queue where I noticed nobody waiting for the front row—or the first half of the train. I jumped on the chance for a front row ride in the dark. With the ride now in walk-on mode, I took another ride, this time on Row 2.

Now I had a bit of a dilemma. One ticket left—do I make my last ride Phoenix or head over to the Haunted Cars? Since it was just before 10 and the station was mostly empty, the decision was easy. Phoenix. I was hoping to catch the last train and get a bonus lap, but that wasn’t to be, as there were a half dozen people or so waiting on the platform when we returned. I figured I could have purchased another ticket or two and maybe hit the cars and Phoenix again, but my cold hands overruled and decided coffee was the next move. For some strange reason, I decided I wanted fries with that.

Amazingly, the fries were up before the girl at the counter could get the creamers to go with the coffee. The serving of fries was rather large too. Who do I see at one of the tables but college kid from Twister. I offered him some fries to get rid of some of them. He took about two. In the cold air, the fries cooled off quickly, while even with the lid off the cup, the coffee remained a temperate 167 degrees. I sat at the table slowly sipping the coffee and watching the last train dispatch on Phoenix. Lucky riders got at least 3 more laps.

I headed back toward the campground still working on that Eight O’Clock. Took me the whole way back to finally finish it. As things go at Knoebels, park closing of 10 means I’m getting into my car at 10:30. Tonight was no exception. It was definitely a great way to bid farewell to my home park for this season.

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Monday, October 20, 2008 7:53 AM

Nice! I miss Knoebels already! Yeah, fries can get kind of yucky when you have them out in the cold. That happened to me at Kennywood before PPP. :)

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